Air Arabia Places Firm Order For 120 Airbus A320neo Family Aircraft
Air Arabia placed a large order for Airbus A320neo family aircraft at the Dubai Airshow, clearing the way for significant growth.
The Sharjah-based low-cost carrier is buying 73 A320neos, 27 A321neos and 20 A321XLRs. “[The order] takes us into the 2020s to grow the business,” CEO Adel Ali said Nov. 18. The aircraft are to be delivered from 2024 onwards, which is when the first production slots were available with Airbus. The growing fleet will be operating from the airlines various bases in Sharjah, Alexandria/Egypt, Ras Al Khaimah and for the joint venture with Etihad Airways, Air Arabia Abu Dhabi.
One particularly significant aspect of the order is that Air Arabia is growing its capability to go into longer-haul markets. The carrier currently has a fleet of 53 A320ceos and three A321LRs which it used to test longer stage lengths, including an eight-hour sector to Kuala Lumpur. The 20 A321XLRs will allow the airline to expand in that segment substantially.
Ali said the airline is looking at more routes into South-East Asia, Europe and “a few places in Africa.” Ali said that the “A321XLR allows us to go further with more baggage than the LR.” He pointed out that the large incoming fleet of A321neos enables the carrier to fly larger capacities to destinations nearer to home base.
The joint venture airline with Etihad in Abu Dhabi is expected to make its first flight at the beginning of the second quarter of 2020, if not sooner. Etihad owns a 51% stake in the carrier and Air Arabia the remaining shares.
According to Ali, Air Arabia’s average fleet age is now 4.5 years. The airline plans to keep the age constant, therefore will use part of the new order to replace its existing fleet.